Last September, SiriusXM, majority-owned by Liberty, announced that it had fully acquired Pandora for $3.5bn. This led online magazine "Music Business Worldwide" to suggest whether Liberty Media could build a true ‘full-stack’ music company – more officially tying together its ownership, or part ownership, of Live Nation, SiriusXM and Pandora. And, therefore, whether a strategic acquisition of a stake in UMG might be under serious consideration.
On November 14th the answer arrived. "MBW" representatives attended Liberty’s Investor Meeting and reported that when Greg Maffei – CEO of Liberty and Chairman of SiriusXM – took the stage, he was asked whether his company might be interested in acquiring a chunk of Universal Music Group. He gave a very intriguing answer:
Start with the premise that if there’s anything that comes up in music, we likely look [at it]. We’re as big a force, we have as much cash flow, as anybody in the music business. We will look at everything. Will we look at UMG if presented [with the opportunity]? Absolutely.
In principle – and we have to be opportunistic and look at the realities of the deal – does [buying some of UMG] potentially make some sense, to own a part of the content infrastructure as a way to hedge [content costs]? Absolutely.
Back in Q1 2015, Maffei, plus Liberty Media Chairman John Malone, reportedly visited then-Vivendi ruler Vincent Bolloré, and made an acquisition bid for UMG It later transpired that they’d offered in the region of €13.5bn ($15bn). These days, that might not even fetch half of UMG – with recent valuations of the company from the investment bankers ranging from sub-$20bn all the way up to $40bn.
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